Chandigarh: Akal Takht Jathedar Giani Harpreet Singh on Monday said every Sikh should possess a licensed modern weapon because "such are the times", prompting objections from Punjab Chief Minister Bhagwant Mann who said he should give a message of peace and brotherhood. Punjab Congress chief Amarinder Singh Raja Warring also took exception to the jathedar's statement and dubbed it as "mischievous". The Akal Takht is the highest temporal seat of Sikhs. In a video message, Singh said, "Even today, there is a need, especially for Sikh boys and girls, to follow the orders of Guru Hargobind Singh. They should take training in gatka baazi (a traditional martial art), sword fighting and shooting. "And every Sikh should also try to possess a licensed modern weapon in a legal way because such are the times and the developing situation is such," he said.
Singh was speaking on the occasion of Guru Hargobind Singh's Gurta Gaddi Diwas. Guru Hargobind Singh was the sixth of the 10 Sikh gurus.
The jathedar's remarks drew a sharp reaction from Chief Minister Mann who asked him not to send out such a message.
"Honourable, Jathedar Sri Akal Takh Sahib ji, your statement about weapons... Jathedar ji, you should send across Gurbani's message of 'sarbat da bhala' (welfare of all) to every house instead of that of possessing weapons. Jathedar sahab, we should give messages of peace, brotherhood and modern development rather than of modern weapons," the chief minister tweeted.
Later, in a statement issued in Chandigarh, Mann said weapons don't have any place in a congenial society.
"We are living in a civilised society where the country is governed through the rule of law. Weapons don't have any place in a congenial and harmonious society," he said.
He added that the jathedar should focus on spreading the message of 'Gurbani', which envisages 'sarbat da bhala'.
It is the need of the hour to ensure that Punjab's hard-earned peace is maintained at all costs, Mann said.
Already inimical forces are trying to disturb peace in the state, he said, adding that weapons in every household can further pose a serious challenge to the state's peaceful atmosphere.
Punjab Congress chief Warring demanded Singh's removal as the Akal Takht jathedar over his remarks.
"Statementadded by Jathedar Sahib about arming youth with modern licensed weapons without explaining facts is mischievous and dangerously threatening communal harmony. I strongly demand his removal from exalted position for the sake of peace of Pb, as he (is the) mouthpiece of vested powers," he tweeted.
In a statement, the Congress leader said it is a matter of serious concern that Singh, who presides over the highest temporal seat of the Sikh community, gave such a call on the 'Gurta Gaddi Diwas' of Guru Hargobind Singh.
Warring said since Singh holds an important position in the Sikh community, whatever he says is always taken seriously by the community and that is why he must also tell the reason behind his message.
"Since Jathedar Sahib has called on the youth of one community, everyone would like to know whether he feels (that there is) any particular threat to the community that its youth need licensed modern weapons," he said. He added that it is "a cause of grave concern" since this message has come from the temporal head of the Sikh community.
Notably, in June 2020, Singh had raked up the issue of Khalistan, a separate state for Sikhs, and said that if the government would offer it, the community would accept it.—PTI